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ADOBO CORNER

Pork and ‘pusit’–an enticing, flavorful pairing

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For almost a year now, Ana Mendoza’s pork and squid adobo has been her kitchen attraction, never failing to stimulate her family’s appetite.

We usually enjoy the combination of chicken and pork adobo, but the partnership of pork and squid is surprisingly more enticing, distinctive and flavorful. Yes, with each bite, a different experience.

The sharp sourness and saltiness of pork-squid adobo explode in the mouth. After a few bites, it even gets tangier and spicier with the inclusion of chili, and the fusion of natural pork oil and squid ink offers lip-smacking goodness to the concoction.

“I learned this pork-squid recipe from a friend, chef Elvis Domingo of Jozu Kin,” says Mendoza. “We were in Baguio City last year for a meeting and on a lazy afternoon he cooked it for us. It was so good. I had several servings of rice because the sauce is already a viand by itself. ”

Domingo is a native of Gapan, Nueva Ecija.

“I asked him to teach me the recipe. When I got home, I shared it with my family, and since then we always have pork-squid adobo at home,” says Mendoza, a freelance public relations consultant. She used to work for Ciudad Fernandina, Hotel Rembrandt and an airline.

She cooks in bulk, about two kilos of pork and squid, stores them in several plastic containers and freezes them. Mendoza gets only a pack from the fridge and reheats it for breakfast over fried rice.

“We were already tired of the usual pork or chicken adobo,” she says. “And I reheat the mixture in a pan, not in a microwave. My mom doesn’t want to use the microwave. The adobo becomes crunchier when reheated in the pan with a bit of oil.”

Mendoza buys the squid from Farmer’s Market in Cubao, QC. She cleans the squid by pulling out the eyes, tentacles, innards and transparent ribs, yet making sure the black tint is carefully set aside and does not burst, as it will give bitter taste.

Pork and squid are first cooked in vinegar, soy sauce, pepper and tomatoes, then sautéed in onions, garlic and chili. This process unlocks a range of flavors to perk up the taste buds.

Mendoza’s adobo is cooked with the ink, but she says you can opt not to include it if you don’t want your adobo too dark. When cooked, squid is reduced in size, so better get medium-size ones.

Passion

Mendoza, a graduate of Business Management at St. Paul’s College Manila, has a passion for good food.

“Though I never took a culinary course, I understand food. I love food. Cooking came naturally to me because I simply love to eat,” she claims.

She loves cooking as much as she enjoys feeding her friends and family with her wide range of specialties—Oriental, Spanish, Italian and Filipino.

An Ilocana, she developed the skill at a tender age. When she was eight, her mom enrolled her at Ludette Dayrit’s Le Cordon Bleu, where she learned the basics of cooking. She also had classes with Sylvia Reynoso for baking. And, at a young age, she knew how to use her know-how.

She would make chicken pie and sell them to classmates and relatives. During Christmas, her mom would bake prune cake as giveaways, while she’d bake her own giveaways such as Black Forest and brownies. In high school, instead of focusing on homework, she was preoccupied with recipes.

“I hardly listened to my teachers; all the things in my mind then were recipes. I wanted to make almond float, brownies, gourmet sandwiches or fondue,” she recalls.

Mendoza keeps a collection of cookbooks and makes variations if she finds the recipe bland or boring. She experiments with different herbs and spices to put color to the recipes.

Her dream is to put up her own modest restaurant in Tagaytay, where she could showcase her comfort food—fabada soup, callos, lengua, paella, etc.

Pork and Pusit Adobo

For adobo mixture:
1 k pork belly
1 k fresh pusit, cleaned and sliced
3 pcs tomatoes, sliced
1 medium onions
2 whole garlic, chopped
3 pcs finger chili, chopped
¼ c cane vinegar
¼ c soy sauce
1 pc laurel
½ tsp ground pepper
2 c water

For sauté:
1 pc whole garlic
1 pc medium onion
¼ c cooking oil

Chop pork belly, adobo-cut, and wash thoroughly. Put water in a pot, add pork, tomatoes, garlic, onions, vinegar, soy sauce, ground pepper and laurel. Cover and leave to boil. When liquid has reduced to one-fourth and pork is tender, add sliced squid and squid ink. Allow to boil for a few minutes and remove from fire. Set aside.

In a separate pan, sauté garlic and onions in oil, then add precooked pork and squid adobo. Add finger chili, then cook for another five to 10 minutes. Take out from fire and transfer in serving plate. Serves five people. Serve hot with rice.

E-mail the author at vbaga@inquirer.com.ph


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